Meditation, for the Nation

21 May 2021 is World Meditation day. So, what is meditation? Well, of all people, Dick Van Dyke put is very well. He said, “When you’re a kid, you lay in the grass and watch the clouds going over, and you don’t have a thought in your mind. It’s purely meditation, and we lose that.”

Meditation plays a role in many religions throughout the world, especially Buddhism, but is not an exclusively religious practice. Many people have realised the benefits of meditation and incorporated it into their daily lives who are neither spiritual nor religious.

Today’s world puts many demands on us, such as work and family, and can leave us very little time for ourselves. Meditation is a way to have a very beneficial moment’s peace to quicken or clear the mind and relax. It has been proven to have positive mental and physical effects when practiced regularly. Specifically, some of these benefits include reducing anxiety and stress.

Anxiety remains one of the leading causes of mental health conditions and can manifest itself as physical as well as emotional problems. In severe cases doctors may prescribe medication, but the best approach is prevention. Meditation is one of the most common ways to treat the symptoms of anxiety, helping individuals to slow their heart rate, control harmful thoughts and prevent future anxiety.

Stress is a normal bodily response and is closely allied to the fight or flight response to danger. For short periods it does no harm, but if you are regularly stressed and your body it regularly preparing to run or fight, this can cause problems in the body. Meditation is a good way to take time out from the world and to focus inwardly on yourself. For example, breathing exercises can reduce blood pressure, calming the mind and give the body time to recover from periods of prolonged stress.

Also, practicing meditation and mindfulness encourages you to think about the present, to live in the moment and not worry about future possibilities. With this focus and other distractions dismissed, it can help you to stay focused and to improve your overall concentration and productivity.

One of the great things about meditation is that anyone can do it, almost anywhere. How you meditate varies widely from person to person. Some prefer physical activity accompanying it such as yoga, while others prefer to stay still. Whether you’re seated, standing, lying in bed or sitting in the bath, simply close your eyes, focus on taking deep breaths in and out and allow your mind to empty of thoughts. If thoughts pop up, simply acknowledge them and dismiss them. Continue to breathe deeply and use it to deepen your sense of calm. When you are ready, then open your eyes and continue with your day. If you are short of time, then set an alarm to alert you it’s time to finish.

So, celebrate World Meditation Day by setting some time aside for yourself to clear your mind and relax. Find a place where you won’t be disturbed, feel at ease and relaxed. This could be in the bath, in bed, or somewhere in nature like a garden. Then simply put yourself in a comfortable position, close your eyes, breathing steadily, and let all thoughts clear from your mind.

If you’ve never tried to meditate before then it can be difficult to clear your mind and avoid wandering thoughts. You may benefit from trying a guided meditation tutorial in which an experienced individual will gently talk you through the process. I have a guided meditation on my You Tube channel which you are welcome to use. Please click here.

Whichever way you choose to celebrate World Meditation Day, just remember that meditation is most beneficial when practised regularly, so why not set yourself a reminder to meditate once or twice a day. Try it for a week and see how you feel. You won’t be disappointed.


Did you know I’m bilingual?

As you will know if you have ever spoken to me I was not born in the UK. Although I have lived in the UK for about twenty years, I do still have a slight accent. I have been accused of being, American, Australian and even a New Zealander. But, I am in fact originally from Port Elizabeth in South Africa. This means that as well as English I also speak Afrikaans, a sister language to Dutch and one of the many official languages of South Africa.
When I first started doing Hypnotherapy I developed my services and scripts in English as most people I come into contact with speak it. But I have now translated them into Afrikaans and can now offer services in either language. To help support this I have added an Afrikaans micro site within my website. It’s accessible by clicking on the South African flag at the top of each page or by clicking here.


Nature, is in your nature

Time spent in nature is the most cost-effective and powerful way to counteract the burnout and sort of depression that we feel when we sit in front of a computer all day. Richard Louv (American Author). 

The Mental Health Foundation is holding a Mental Health Awareness Week from 10-16 May 2021. Their mission is to help people to better understand, protect and sustain their mental health. This preventative approach is the basis of what they do, as the best way to deal with a crisis is to prevent it in the first place. Their vision is good mental health for all. 

This year the theme of the week is Nature and its importance for good mental health. It’s easy to under estimate the importance of nature to our psychological and emotional health. For me it’s almost impossible to imagine good mental health without a connection to the natural world. Spending time in nature helps to calm, rejuvenate and energise me. For most of human history we have lived very close to, and as part of, nature. It is only in the last few generations that so many of us have lived and worked in cities and towns often with little or no assess to nature and the countryside.

As early as Victorian times, sanatoriums were set well away from towns and cities often in vast landscaped estates with private gardens for each ward. More recently, 1960s studies in the US found that patients who were treated in hospitals with a view of nature recovered faster.

Despite this sadly, many of us do not value or have access to the benefits of nature. It is thought that around 13% of UK households have no access to a garden. With greater pressure on land to build houses, green belt, gardens and park lands are being eroded.

If you are struggling with mental health issues, don’t suffer in silence. There is help available. With Hypnotherapy, for example, you are able to examine your thought processes and beliefs. These can be the cause of emotional, physical, mental or even spiritual problems. Once identified, changes can be made to address these issues and improve your quality of life. To find out more, click here.


Are you in a good place to die?

2020 was a year that seemed to be over shadowed by death and dying and although the UK and some other parts of the world are in a better place now, 2021 is not much better in places like India and Brazil.

Dying Matters has around 12,000 members, and are actively seeking those that are committed to supporting changing knowledge, attitudes and behaviours around dying, death and bereavement. Crucially, they want people of all ages to be in a good place when they die – physically, emotionally and with the right care in place.

This year’s Dying Matters Awareness Week runs from Monday 10 May to Sunday 16 May.  The idea is to open up conversations about death, dying and bereavement. The focus this year is on the importance of being in a good place to die and how you and your loved ones can plan for the end of life. There are five aspects of being in a good place to die.

Physically. Where people die is changing. More people than ever are dying at home and the pandemic has seen this trend increase. Have you thought about this?

Emotionally. Have you had an open and honest conversation about dying, how it would affect you and your family and associated feelings and emotions?

Financially. Is there a will? Are their wishes clear and well understood? Have you given any thought to the funeral? Remember that at the moment there is a limit to how many people can attend a funeral or wake. Are finances, insurance policies and other matters in order?

Spiritually. Are they at peace with their family, friends and beliefs? Are there any last wishes, desires or tasks to complete?

Digitally. Has access to social media, online banking and other digital matters been thought about?

If you are struggling with any aspect of death, dying or loss then Hypnotherapy can be very useful in a number of ways. These can include reducing the symptoms of grief, helping to find a way to grieve that doesn’t overwhelm you, changing your perception of the loss, help for you to deal with feelings of (survivors) guilty or regret and empower you to reconnect to memories of the person without painful feelings or distress. If you are struggling with a loss or bereavement click here to contact me.